B: So, in determining God’s purpose for our lives, let me consider one common observation. Have you noticed that God has told us to do a whole bunch of things, and yet we’ve never seen Him?
A: I don’t know that I ever thought of it in that way, but similar thoughts have crossed my mind, once or twice, I suppose.
B: Obviously I can’t speak for everybody; perhaps there are people alive today who’ve seen Him but haven’t told me. All I know is that I haven’t seen Him, and yet He expects me to keep all these commandments I’ve been talking about. Why do you suppose He wants me, and in general, all of us, to keep His commandments, even if we’re unsure of the very existence of the One giving the commandments in the first place?
A: Beats me.
B: This, too, is an unoriginal question; people have been asking it for, I dare say, millennia. The most common answer that has been given over the ages is quite possibly to develop what is called “faith.” And I believe it to be correct, besides. Why else would He keep His very existence such a big mystery?
Think of the difference between the following two situations:
In the first, A, a powerful, glorious being, tells B, an ordinary Joe, to go do something. B heard the commandment directly from A’s mouth, and can see that A is a powerful, glorious being. Now, mind you, B doesn’t necessarily feel threatened by A, but has seen A do amazing things that B has no comprehension of whatsoever.
In the second situation, A, the same glorious being as before, gives B the same commandment, but through C, an intermediary. C’s an ordinary Joe just like B is. B has never seen A. Neither has C, but C strongly believes that A has given B the commandment, which in fact A has.
In which situation do you think B is more likely to perform A’s commandment?
A: The first, of course. I don’t see any reason why B would listen to C in the second situation; why should he?
B: Let me rephrase the question: in which situation do you think it is more difficult for B to perform A’s commandment?
And, finally: in which situation does it require more faith from B to perform A’s commandment?
A: Well…faith in what? In the second situation, B requires faith in C, not in A.
B: Actually, I think that the second situation requires B to have faith in A as well. After all, if C is just an ordinary Joe just like B, why can’t B come to “strongly believe” that A has given B that commandment through C, just like C apparently had? And the very coming to “strongly believe” that A has given the commandment (to B, through C) requires faith from B in A, and it’s this kind of faith that I’m talking about.
You’ll notice that the first situation really requires no faith at all. If God was always around, and we could plainly see that He was thoroughly deserving of His title, we’d have no trouble obeying Him at all. It’d be no challenge. But if we’d ever only heard of God, and never seen Him ourselves, and often been wondering whether others have just made Him up – well, it’s easy to see that obeying Him is a lot more challenging, especially when obedience isn’t convenient.
A: Why is faith so important that God feels the need to have us develop it? Does He think we need a challenge?
B: I don’t know that I can say that I know the complete answer to this, but it may involve precisely that, that we need a challenge. Perhaps in some premortal realm, God asked us to do things and we learned to obey Him just fine. Now He wants to see – or rather, we have the opportunity to prove it to ourselves, since He already knows – if we’re willing to still be obedient to Him in the more difficult situation of having forgotten any premortal existence and taking all His commandments on faith.
My goodness, why just LOOK at the time! There’s a bunch more for me to say about this, but it’ll have to wait…